GPs ‘will be allowed to conscientiously object’ to providing abortions

Government preparing legislation to allow for abortions after vote

Minister for Health Simon Harris has confirmed he will allow for GPs to conscientiously object to providing terminations at their clinics. Photograph: Cyril Byrne

Minister for Health Simon Harris has confirmed he will allow for GPs to conscientiously object to providing terminations at their clinics. Photograph: Cyril Byrne

 

Minister for Health Simon Harris has confirmed he will allow for GPs to conscientiously object to providing terminations at their clinics.

The Government is seeking to introduce legislation to allow for abortions up to 12 weeks if the Eighth Amendment is repealed, and believes this should be a GP-led service.

However those representing GPs are critical of the lack of engagement by Mr Harris on the proposed legislation.

The National Association of General Practitioners (NAGP) said there has no consultation with GPs despite the assumption this service will be run by them.

The association, which is the representative body for over 2000 General Practitioners, said that, without consultation, the Minster for Health had presumed that this service will be GP led.

“The NAGP strongly objects to the assumption that this will be a GP led service. Its members are outraged that there has been no consultation.”

Dr Andy Jordan told RTÉ’s Morning Ireland that some consideration has to be made for doctors who will have a conscientious objection to performing terminations.

However, he said that the NAGP does not wish in any way to influence the outcome of the referendum.

“We want the process to proceed and the people to speak. But there are legal, ethical and practical challenges to putting a system in place.”

Mr Harris has confirmed there would be full consultation with GPs and will seek to meet the NAGP and others over the coming weeks. He also pledged to allow for doctors to object to providing the service, in a similiar clause available in the Protection of Life During Pregnancy Act.

Earlier this week it emerged GPs will seek to be paid for operating any new abortion service under a new contract with the State if the planned referendum to repeal the Eighth Amendment is carried. The Eighth Amendment gives equal rights to the unborn and the mother and outlaws abortion in most cases.

The Oireachtas Committee on the Eighth Amendment concluded in December that Article 40.3.3 should be removed from the Constitution and politicians should be allowed to legislate for abortion. Legislation should be prepared to permit terminations up to 12 weeks of pregnancy, without restriction, by way of a GP service, the committee said.

The Government is due to publish a policy paper covering its proposed scheme by mid-March. The Bill to allow for a refernedum will be published on March 6th.